Misaal is working with a consortium of minority-focused groups in Bangladesh (Bandhu Social Welfare Society) and Sri Lanka (Law and Society Trust) to empower youth from minority backgrounds in the region, to help contribute to better development/security outcomes for their minorities; whilst also reaching out to youth from majority backgrounds, to forge a common cause for rights and dignity for all, contributing to building and sustaining peace.
Building on the lessons from our earlier interventions and expanding the scope of those interventions, this proposed action research will seek to empower minority youth, especially women and those from transgender community, to act as change agents in their communities and society broadly, through civic engagement, to improve inclusion outcomes – viz. reduced violence against religious, caste, and gender minorities; and reduced discrimination against them in accessing services, opportunities and social security schemes. Improved inter-community dialogue towards conflict resolution, is the other expected outcome of this plan.
This research will be led by practitioners/changemakers/field-staff and the dichotomy between the subject and the researcher will be fractured. Action Research methodology is participatory and conducted in cycles. Lessons from each cycle will enable the next cycle to be designed better and to address gaps observed. Our proposed work will build on ongoing work with youth from minority backgrounds by leading minority-focused groups in the region:
(i) Bandhu Social Welfare Society, with sexual and religious minority youth, including transgender, in Dhaka, Bangladesh (http://www.bandhu-bd.org/)
(ii) MISAAL working with youth belonging to religious and caste minorities, in India (www.misaal.ngo). The latter, under a fellowship programme piloted over past two years, seeks to build capacity of minority youth to document and analyse factors behind poor development and security/dignity outcomes for religious minorities; and to engage with local communities to mobilise them – through awareness raising (on rights and entitlements on how to access those); platform building; and collective advocacy – to try to improve outcomes.
The potential benefits of conducting this action research regionally – across communities in South Asia – would mean that positive experiences of youth action for inclusion – good practices, specific programmes, interventions that have proved successful, and lessons learnt in different country contexts – are shared across the region, helping improve regional outcomes on rights and inclusion.
Build networks of youth groups across the South Asia region which are able to employ civic engagement to positively influence outcomes for minority groups including security, identity, dignity, and development (their equal access to services, entitlements and opportunities).
The proposed research will seek specifically to:
- To establish 2 (two) youth groups/networks in India and 1 (one) in Bangladesh, among minority communities, in the poorest areas/communities, to positively influence minority outcomes – including security, identity, dignity, and development. In India, these will provisionally be with religious and caste minorities; and in Bangladesh, with sexual and religious minorities.
- Build up the youth groups’ ability to enable change, through improving their capacity for (i) documenting rights violations and discriminations, using international and national benchmarks; and using existing freedom of information and other pro-poor laws, to aid the documentation process; (ii) raising awareness among minority communities (as well as wider public), on minority rights and discriminations, and youth’s role in building and sustaining peace and justice for all; and (iii) helping advocate with key stakeholders – state and civil society – for improving outcomes, and finally (iv) inter-group dialogue and peace-building led by youth actors.
- Support youth groups to take practical steps to deliver change – through documentation, awareness raising, advocacy, and outreach.
- Lastly, draw out lessons from the effort, to create fresh knowledge on the subject, with a clear practice focus (for use by youth groups and the wider policy community) practical guides on giving youth a voice in influencing positive outcomes on democracy, equality and inclusion.
Action Research Outcomes:
- Increased leadership, voice, and capacity of young women and men for effective civic engagement
- Capacity at local, national and regional levels – among youth groups – on securing rights of minorities and the excluded.
- Knowledge on minority rights outcomes and efforts, systematically prepared, to enable tracking and rapporteuring and presented in the form of a report.
- Minority groups – of youth, transgender – able to access rights, entitlements
- Improved networking among women and men’s youth, especially from disadvantaged minority backgrounds, for improved advocacy and capacity building
- Networks and platforms of the youth established and strengthened – local, national and regional
- Greater Capacity of platforms for advocacy with stakeholders – state, media, civil society
- South Asia regional capacity on minority community capacity – local networks/platforms, awareness raising, community mobilisation, project planning and delivery, documentation.
- Increased public awareness and shift in values and attitudes about young men and women’s citizenship needs and urgency of their social, economic, political and cultural inclusion, especially those from minority backgrounds
- Baseline and impact reports, on inclusion outcomes among youth from disadvantaged groups, developed and disseminated widely
- Public awareness on issues of concerns, raised using evidence generated, through debates and discussions, and communication of the findings at different fora, locally, and nationally and regionally.
- Increased understanding by policymakers about how to enhance spaces of engagement and dialogue for youth
- Youth platforms have the capacity for policy advocacy – better outreach with policy community; present evidence and recommendations in suitable form; better advocacy on key recommendations
- Regional and national platforms, working with media and key stakeholders, able to influence policy community
- Increased understanding of how the web of formal/state and informal/social laws and norms shape youth identity, expression and social/civic space.
- Working papers with analysis and policy recommendations and a series of short case studies/discussion papers on different themes for each country.
- Knowledge base and understanding of the interface between youth and law and legal and social norms expanded; recommendations developed for policy and legal reforms as well as social interventions developed that can become the basis for further strengthening advocacy by a range of civil society actors.